The Scarlet Letter, By Larry J. Reynolds Essay

The Scarlet Letter, By Larry J. Reynolds Essay

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In his piece, The Scarlet Letter and Revolutions Abroad, Larry J. Reynolds aims to link Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, to historical revolutions both past and present. He explains that one can draw parallels between the story and revolutions by examining the structure, themes, setting, language, as well as characterization within the story. As to why these parallels are present, Reynolds doesn’t give much explanation but justifies his claim by saying the revolutions and disrupts abroad were constantly on Hawthorne’s mind.
Reynold’s begins the piece explaining why revolution had been absent in most American literature of the day. Despite the first couple pages not seeming relevant, at least to me, Reynolds does plant his first idea of revolutionary influence on Hawthorne and his writing. He claims that the character of Hester Prynne was largely characterized off of Margaret Fuller. Fuller is known to have been one of the prominent female revolutionaries of the time. She is reported to have been a key figure in trying to rally American support for all the men dying back in Europe. Reynolds also included that Fuller spent time as a nurse during these battles of revolt. He then shows possible connections between this historical figure to the Hester, by making the reader think about what qualities the two woman share; therefore, making the assertion that Hawthorne was influenced by revolutionary figures to draw inspiration for his character writing.
Next, Reynolds shows the influence of the French Revolution’s guillotine on The Scarlet Letter. He explains that the scaffold that Hester is sentenced to stand upon as punishment is meant to be a comparison to the famous weapon in the French Revolution, the guillotine. Reynolds poi...


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...ated by the background knowledge Reynolds provides. Not just in this example, but throughout the piece, Reynolds gives the reader an insight into how Hawthorne was influenced by these ideals. He mentions how much of revolutionary material Hawthorne read during this time and how much intensely he was consumed by what was happening abroad. This gives the piece more credibility as it shows the reader actual evidence as to the reliability of the revolutions influence on Hawthorne.
Reynolds does a good job showing connections between the Hawthorne’s novel and revolutions abroad. I believe his work is influential and credible. I agree that there are many instances within The Scarlet Letter that can trace their origin back to some form of revolutionary ideas, however; as to the magnitude and importance Reynolds believes Hawthorne put on these points, I am not sure of yet.

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